Buckle up butter beans, grab yourself a beverage and a candy snack and settle in for an extended ride because we’re feeling long-winded and scatter-brained this morning.
Up in the staid but still flashy guard-gated community of Beverly Park, the palatial piles that line the empty tree-lined streets make all those five- and six-thousand square foot mansions in the flats of Beverly Hills, CA look like the staff quarters. We might describe Beverly Park as a real slap you across the face sort of place that screams and pleads, “I have so much money. Can’t you see how much money I have?” This isn’t keeping up with the Jones’s, hunnies, it’s more like keeping up with Russian oligarchs and the damn Queen of England.
Beverly Park was developed in the 1990s in two sections on over 250 acres nestled into the mountains high above Beverly Hills in what’s called the “Post Office.” That means, in short, the homes have a Beverly Hills zip code but Los Angeles city services. If you live in the Beverly Hills Post Office, the legendarily fast-responding Beverly Hills po-po don’t race their cars up to your house in an event of an emergency. Instead you get the slower moving L.A.P.D. Each section of Beverly Park has its own 24/7 (wo)manned gatehouse. The over-sized residences in South Beverly Park are insanely huge in comparison to the average American home but the really turgid Tuscan-inspired mega-mansions are up in North Beverly Park where some of the homes are positively steroidal. The development was originally designed with 16 lots in South Beverly Park and 64 in North Beverly Park. According to our repeated but confused counting, the actual number of home sites in the northern section is 56. That’s because several of the first super-rich residents purchased multiple lots in the northern section and combined them to create super-sized estates.
The hyper-manicured and absurdly pristine community, obviously only accessible to the extraordinarily well-heeled, claims residents like big business barons Haim Saban and Eric Smidt, a Saudi royal or two and a surprising number financially fortunate celebs who include Sylvester Stallone, comedians Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy, actors Jami Gertz and Paul Reiser, country queen Reba McEntire and the $20,000,000 man himself, Denzel Washington. Two of the cast members of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills–that would be Lisa Vanderpump and Adrienne Maloof-Nassif–are also current residents of the exclusive enclave. In fact, these two businesswomen live directly across the street from each other. That cozy neighborly set-up may not last long as Miz Vanderpump and her easy-going restaurateur husband Ken Todd would like to downsize and currently have their 7 bedroom an 10 bathroom monster mansion listed off-market with an asking price of $29,000,000.
We’re not particularly proud of our embarrassing interest in Beverly Park. We’re really not. However, out of dog crap flowers sometimes grow and our near fetish with the showy and hoity-toity ‘hood where architectural and decorative excessive is to be expected has turned up a surprisingly consistent real estate pattern in which homeowners heave and ho their plus-size palaces on the market with astronomical asking prices only to wait years to sell for a significantly and in some cases monumentally lower amount.
Take for instance the titanic 27,000 square foot Tuscan-inspired mega-mansion snatched up in the fall of 2008 by L.A.-based billionaire Ron Tutor for a mind-melding $32,200,000. That’s an alarming and vast amount of money by any real estate standard but, according to our calculations, the purchase price was actually an ego-bruising 34% less than the searing original asking price of $49,000,0000. Mister Tutor’s name has been much in the news lately because he’s part of the consortium that includes actor Rob Lowe that recently acquired Miramax Films for a whopping $660,000,000. The unrepentant real estate size queen has also been a fixture in the gossip columns the last week or so because he reportedly leased his sprawling 19,000+ square foot Tudor-style estate in the star-packed equestrian enclave of Hidden Hills, CA for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 per month to pop star Britney Spears.
Married country music king and queen Tim McGraw and Faith Hill ran into some pricing problems while attempting to sell their former West Coast abode in South Beverly Park. Our records show the superstar couple first listed their 4.85-acre Bev Park homestead in October of 2008 at $14,800,000 but, alas, did not manage to rid themselves of their unwanted residence until June of 2010 when they sold it for $9,500,000 to a couple of high-powered Beverly Hills attorneys. According to some rudimentary calculations on our bejeweled abacus, that’s a hefty-hefty-hefty 36% less than the McGraw-Hills had hoped to get.
Hollywood heavyweight Mike Medavoy and his wife Irena first attempted to unload their 10,769 square foot East Coast-style Bev Park spread in October of 1999. For whatever and probably a variety of reasons it took the Medavoys almost ten years to unload their Beverly Park real estate albatross, which finally sold in September of 2009 for $12,500,000. A little fooling with the weary beads on our bejeweled abacus shows that’s an punishing 53% less than the home’s highest asking price of $23,500,000. Mister and Missus Medavoy are without question rolling in the do-re-mi but that kind of discount would be a big bruise to any one’s real estate ego.
There are, of course, always exceptions to the rules. One of the Beverly Park real estate anomalies would be philandering actor Kelsey Grammer who with his former wife Camille–she-devil of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills–briefly owned an 8 bedroom and 12 bathroom beast of a house in Beverly Park that they acquired in early 2004 for $17,500,000, flipped back on the market in 2005 for $25,000,000 and sold in January of 2006 for $22,000,000. As best as we can sort out the 17,000-plus square foot mansion was purchased by a Norwegian mobile communications mogul.
Four of the most recent sales in Beverly Park continue to illustrate our above-mentioned and wholly unscientifically researched real estate pattern–or maybe it’s a curse–that suggests a Beverly Park homeowner is likely to throw their ritzy residence up on the market with a sky-high asking price and then wait a long time, sometimes years, only to sell at a number bewilderingly and vastly less than the original asking price.
In May of 2009 underwear model turned rapper turned actor turned super-producer Mark Walhberg spent eight and a quarter million clams on a 6+ acre vacant parcel tucked up into the northern section of North Beverly Park. The seller was financially embattled property developer Robert Bisno who, as it turns out, lost his Beverly Park mansion into the angry and hungry jaws of foreclosure in 2009. Whatever Mister Wahlberg’s plan for his Beverly Park property may be, the estate-sized lot sits right up next door to the former home of mathematician turned porn purveyor Norm Zada who, among other lucrative endeavors, earned a substantial fortune as the founder and publisher of Perfect 10, a publication devoted to buck-nekkid ladees who claim not to have had any cosmetic surgery. Apropos of nothing relevant to this real estate discussion but fascinating still, a couple of years ago it was widely reported that Mister Zada was gettin‘ up on cosmetic surgery cyclone and comedienne Joan Rivers. Now that, puppies, is an odd couple.
A few months prior to Mister Wahlberg’s purchase of an undeveloped Beverly Park parcel, the pasha of porno pushed his colossal contemporary crib next door (above) on to the open market with a price tag of $24,500,000. Mid-summer in 2009 Your Mama heard through the Beverly Hills real estate gossip grapevine that supermodel cum media mogul Heidi Klum and her musician husband Seal made an unsuccessful low ball offer on Mister Zada’s monstrous modern mansion that looks to us like a regional airport in an upscale zip code. True story: Your Mama was once inside Mister Zada’s house when all of the sudden an elderly Asian man dropped to the floor with a bloodied forehead after running himself face-first into a giant panel of glass in the airplane hanger-sized living room.
But we digress. The previous year, in July of 2008, septuagenarian Italian movie siren Luciana Paluzzi and her media mogul/theme park honcho husband Michael Solomon listed their 13,638 square foot mansion in South Beverly Park at $19,995,000. The asking price quickly and inexplicably jumped to $23,995,000. According to our always informative friend Babbling Babette, British pop star Robbie Williams, who has long owned a home in the gated Mulholland Estates community, took a shine to the property in the fall of 2008 and actually entered into a contract to purchase Signora Paluzzi’s mock-Med manse for close to the asking price. As it turns out, the singer had a real estate change of heart, backed out at the last minute, lost his sizable deposit and decided to move back to England.
Thanks to Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills, we were recently made aware that after two long years on the market Signora Paluzzi’s 7 bedroom and 7 bathroom Bev Park estate (above) was scooped up in early February of 2011 by Alex von Furstenburg. In case y’all don’t read Vanity Fair–a publication we think of as terlit reading for the quasi-sophisticated–Mister von Furstenberg happens to be the son of impossibly chic sartorial power-player Diane von Furstenberg and the step-son of her (alleged) Lavender Mafia member and multi-billionaire husband Barry Diller. Verified information provided to Your Mama by Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills shows that Mister von Furstenberg–who works in equities and finance or something like that–secured the Spanish Hacienda-style house for the exasperatingly complicated price of $12,999,999. A few quick calculations on our bejeweled abacus shows that’s a gut-wrenching 45% discount off the highest asking price. Good for Mister von Furstenberg; Not so good for Signora Paluzzi.
In mid-November of 2010, several month before the von Furstenbergs closed on their new Beverly Park pad, porno king Norm Zada’s arduous Beverly Park real estate journey finally came to an end when he unloaded his white elephant for $16,500,000 to an unnamed buyer. The sale price is considerably more then the von Furstenbergs paid for their (smaller) spread in South Beverly Park and a whopping 33% less than the original asking price of $24,500,000. Now children, here’s the icing on this slice of juicy Beverly Park pie: The unnamed buyer–wealthy Saudis according to a trusted informant we’ll Beverly Park–quickly caught an acute case of The Real Estate Fickle and just 2.5 months after purchasing the property flipped the beehawtcha back on the market with an astonishing asking price of–wait for it, wait for it–$25,000,000. We’re not sure what makes the (alleged) Saudi owner think the house has gained $8,500,000 in value in just a couple of months but if we’ve said it once we’ve said it 8.5 million times: Who are we to question or comprehend the weird real estate ways of the wildly wealthy? These things simply make no sense to us mere financial mortals.
Two weeks after the Saudis closed on Mister Zada’s contemporary crib in mid-November, the so-called Great 78 estate (above)–on the market since before Eve (allegedly) tempted Adam with an apple–was snapped up by an as yet unnamed buyer in late November for $21,000,000. That’s an impressive ass-load of money to be sure but, chickens, true to pattern, it’s also notably lower than the $29,000,000 asking price and even less than the original $34,000,000 price tag.
The 3-ish-acre estate, directly across the street from Kelsey Grammer’s former Bev Park residence, has a 17,826 square foot main mansion with 7 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms plus a three bedroom guest house. The seller was health supplement guru Bill Phillips and the buyer–again as per our well-connected tattle-tale Beverly Park–is Los Angeles-based self-made billionaire Tom Gores. All the other Beverly Park fiends out there will already know that Tom Gores’ billionaire brother Alec Gores also owns a ginormous village-like mansion inside the gates of Beverly Park. They would be walking distance from each other if anyone were to actually walked on the sidewalks in Beverly Park. But they don’t. Well, okay, the staff people do, but not the homeowners. We’d bet the pinky toe on our left foot that Lisa Vanderpump and Adrienne Maloof probably drive across the street to each other’s house when they meet up for a tipple or two of wine.
Anyhoodles poodles, we don’t know a rock from a refrigerator so we really can’t say if Tom Gores has already moved into or even plans to move into The Great 78. What we do know is that since the late ’90s, Mister Gores and his family have bedded down in a 10,479 square foot mansion in the upscale Mulholland Estates, the very same guard-gated community that’s home to British pop star Robbie Williams, hotel heiress Paris Hilton and prostie-loving actor Charlie Sheen among other high-profile Tinseltown types.
Another outrageously palatial Beverly Park behemoth that sat on the market for quite a few years and at long last recently sold for less than half than its original asking price is a strangely squat-looking Italian villa built on spec by a gentleman named George San Pietro, a real estate developer, long-time Beverly Park resident and the ex-husband and baby daddy of Wheel of Fortune letter turner Vanna White. Miz White–it may amuse some of the children to know–now lives in the celebrity-stocked Mulholland Estates community along with Paris Hilton, Charlie Sheen, Robbie Williams, Beverly Park and Mulholland Estates homeowner Tom Gores and former Beverly Park homeowners Mike and Irena Medavoy who, as it turns out, recently and brazenly flipped their giant house in the Mulholland Estates back on the market for nearly a million and half more than they paid just 4.5 months after buying the damn thing.
As best as we can surmise from our peep and poke through the property records and online listing information, Mister San Pietro first put his 24,595 square foot real estate hope and prayer in Beverly Park (above) on the open market in August of 2007 with a staggering (and publicity generating) asking price of $50,000,000. While waiting to sell, Mister San Pietro wisely and famously leased his Bev Park spec-built mansion to P. Diddy–or Piddle Patty or Daddy Diddler or whatever damn name Sean Combs calls himself nowadays. The entrepreneurial mogul hosted one of his star-studded (and depressingly cliché) white parties on the property. Mister San Pietro made a few more pennies when he leased the department store-sized house to the itty-bitty purple one Prince for a reported $200,000 per month.
After three long years on (and off) the market, the price of Mister San Pietro’s Beverly Park ball-and-chain had plummeted to $27,900,000 and, huzzah!, six short weeks later the boutique hotel-sized house was sold for an even lower $23,500,000. That a truly tongue-twisting 47% less than the original and–let’s be honest cinnamon sticks–never realistic fifty million buck asking price.
We recently queried a Beverly Hills real estate über-insider with whom we’re acquainted–let’s call him Lee O. Tard–as to the identity of the as yet unnamed new owners of the 9 bedroom and 15 bathroom behemoth. The sometimes frighteningly knowledgeable Lee O. Tard snitched to Your Mama that the baronial Bev Park beast’s new owners are husband and wife handbag designers Bruce Makowsky and Kathy Van Zeeland, an energetic pair who have made a killing hawking their hobo bags and clutches on the home shopping juggernaut QVC.
While we would certainly not be surprised to learn there are more–every mansion is for sale for the right price–as far as we know there are only five Beverly Park properties currently available. The Real Housewives of Bevelry Hills cast member Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd have a $29,000,000 price tag on their house and the unfortunately-named Rockstar Energy Drink founder Russ Weiner has had his Bev Park mansion on and off the market for nearly two years with an unchanged asking price of $28,000,000. Both properties are listed off-market with Mauricio Umansky, Beverly Park ur-agent, husband of Beverly Hills housewife Kyle Richards and soon-to-be star of the upcoming Selling Los Angeles reality program.
Norm Zada’s former home, (allegedly) bought by wealthy Saudis in late 2010, is back on the market for $25,000,000 and real estate reality television junkies will recognize the listing agent as toothy and dapper Matthew Altman who appears on the current season of Million Dollar Listing. Weighing in at 29,069 square foot, the duplex palace with 18 bedrooms and a flabbergasting 28 bathrooms is listed at $19,999,000 and owned–we’ve been told by a number of those in the know–by some Saudi royal or another.
Only time will tell if our little pattern-theory about the real estate habits of Beverly Park homeowners will hold up in regards to the quintet of properties currently for sale. Word to the wise: If history does indeed repeat itself, at least a few of the owners of the five available properties should prepare themselves for a very long real estate haul that will end with them selling their mansion for considerably under their original asking price. Such are the real estate ways of the famous and freakishly rich.